This commentary on Needham's (2001, this issue) work focuses on the types of evidence needed to make inferences concerning infant cognition. It is helpful to consider the history of the positions that have been held by scientists who have tried to explain the cognitive abilities of animals, deemed to be so very different from adult humans, and in that regard, similar to infants. The justification of inference is not a matter of personal taste or the application of a rigid doctrine. Rather, the study of infant cognition requires a high level of creativity in the creation and testing of alternative explanations. By understanding lessons from our past, current researchers should be better able to conduct their studies and draw appropriate conclusions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant to The Minnesota Center for Cognitive Sciences, Albert Yonas (P.I.), from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (HD-07151.) I thank Sara Webb for the discussions that help me clarify my ideas and her efforts to make this article more cogent.
- Consciousness in animals and infants
- History of research in cognition
- Infant cognitions
- Infant perception
- Morgan's canon
- Research methods in infancy research